City Hall

Depositions and More Delays in City's Case Against Museum of the American Railroad

In case you'd forgotten all about City of Dallas v. Museum of the American Railroad, rest assured: It's alive and well in Dallas County District Court, where, in recent days, there have been myriad filings and hearings in advance of a January 25 court date that comes almost one year to the day after the city initially sued the museum to get it out of Fair Park. Matter of fact, says one of the docs posted on the other side, council member Ron Natinsky -- who told Unfair Park earlier this year he tried to keep the museum, only to have CEO Bob LaPrelle cut a deal with Frisco behind Dallas's back -- has been deposed by the museum: He has till tomorrow to submit his response to 25 written questions asked by attorney William Brotherton, who tells Unfair Park that "if the museum doesn't believe he answered the questions properly," there will be another hearing on December 13.

All this legal wrangling comes at a time when Frisco city officials, who long ago committed $1 million to a $1.5-million facility up thataways, are prepared to extend the museum's move-in date one whole year -- to May 2012. The reason, per city council docs prepared for tonight's meeting:

The project is now estimated to cost approximately $2.3 million -- with design and site work being much higher than anticipated in the original agreements. With the financial downturn, the MAR has had difficulty in raising the funds necessary for their share of the project. Further, the MAR is in a dispute with the City of Dallas regarding leaving their current Fair Park location which has complicated matters.
Brotherton says the May 2012 deadline is just that -- "the final date we need to get up there" before the deal with Frisco lapses.

He still insists the museum will move before that. But First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers says Dallas isn't interested in giving the museum another year. If those trains stay at Fair Park till then, Bowers says, "it'll be over our strong objections, and we'll do everything in our power to get a court order getting them off the property sooner than later. ... We will certainly explore what compensation we can receive if they continue to stay on the city's property."

I tried calling the museum earlier this week; its answering machine has a message dating back to September. Brotherton, again, blames the city for how long it's taking the museum to move.

"If the city just sat down with the museum and said, 'How do we get you to Frisco?,'" he says, "that would have been a whole lot better than filing a suit against a nonprofit trying to move, because all it did was make it that much harder to move."

Natinsky Order City of Dallas v Museum of the American Railroad November 29 Filing City of Dallas v Museum of the American Railroad November 30 Filing

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky